Custom Search

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Networks May Limit Coverage On Convention After Obama Changes Venues

Broadcast executives are debating whether to limit the coverage of the Democratic convention this year due to the financial costs associated with Barack Obama's decision to change the venue where he will be officially accepting his party's nomination.
Barack Obama decided late in the game to give his acceptance speech at Denver's Invesco Field instead of at the convention center which has put broadcasting executives, who have spent months planning their coverage of the event, in a bit of a financial bind.

The Politico reports that several network executives have confirmed that major speeches will undoubtedly be covered but beyond that all options are being considered as they look to save money and balance out what the estimated costs surrounding the Invesco Field event.

The networks contend that the change would costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each network has budgeted millions for the conventions, but according to reports those monies were already accounted for and this change would force them into dip into their 2008 campaign budgets.

The senior vice president at CBS News, Paul Friedman, states that Obama’s decision “makes it enormously more expensive. It does add to the overall question of how the networks should cover what is a non-news event.”

ABC News' executive in charge of convention coverage, Bob Murphy, reiterates that same outlook by saying, "We're trying to figure out ways to cover what we need to cover and still stay in our budget. The change in the schedule clearly has put some very severe cost issues on the table and we are trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

Among the options now being considered by broadcast executives is a reduction in staffing at the Democratic convention, with some news staff being asked to stay back in New York or Washington instead of traveling to Denver — though that is a measure the networks hope to avoid.

Another alternative that several networks are mulling involves the long-standing idea of anchoring the convention from someplace other than the Pepsi Center, where it is scheduled to be held in August.

The potential limiting of network coverage poses a problem for the presumptive Democratic nominee because traditionally, in the past, there has been some separation between the Democratic convention and the Republican convention. In that time after the Democratic nominee is officially crowned, so to speak, they generally receive massive coverage which helps with the "convention bounce" otherwise known as a poll number bounce.

The convention bounce defined is:

A presidential candidate's surge in popularity immediately following his formal nomination at a national convention, with all the attendant media coverage and public interest.

This year, unlike previous years, the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, begins on Sept. 1, 2008, which is just four days after the Democratic convention ends,

The Democratic leaders were so concerned with that loss of "bounce" that they even seriously considered knocking one day off the Democratic convention to give their Obama one additional day to "capitalize" on the convention.

Network coverage is extremely important during the convention as well as the days after the convention because four days later, the networks will all be covering the Republican convention.

The LA Times goes to report that inside the Democratic circles there is growing speculation that John McCain will seize the spotlight even before that four day period between conventions by announcing his running mate after the Democratic convention and before the Republican convention starts.

The person quoted in that piece is the man who managed Bob Dole's presidential bid in 1996, Scott Reed, who said, "I'd expect McCain to name his choice on the Friday after the Democratic convention. It would be a good way to quash Obama's bounce."

Time will tell what decisions the broadcasting networks will make, but limiting the coverage when there is already a considerable shortening of the time to take advantage of polling bounce for the Democratic nominee, may prove that the late change in venue of where Obama will give his acceptance speech, might have been a counterproductive decision in the long run.